Walking Gently on Earth is the title of a forthcoming book from the Western Province. It began as a submission in response to a nomination by the NGO Vita, with which the Sisters in the West are in partnership. However, it has now become the story of many innovations and projects, as well as a multitude of stories of individual lifestyles of Sisters, all centering on harmonious relationship with Earth. While not exhaustive, it is hoped that this collection can inspire us to even more radical awareness of how we need to change our way of living, so that “all may simply live.”
L-R: Ciara Fehilly (Vita Communications), John Weakliam (CEO Vita), Mary Glynn (PLT), Caitlín Conneely (Provincial), John Gilliland (Vita), Margaret Tiernan (Working Group), Juliet Walsh (PLT), Loreto Hogge (Working Group) and Breege Donohoe (PLT) on the occasion of the latest signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between Vita and the Province, by the present Provincial Leadership Team.
The first part of the book, Sowing the Seed, focuses on the history of awareness-raising in membership, through interest in Earth Literacy. It shares some of the Spirituality that shapes our awareness and how this is influenced through Chapter discernment. The second part of the book, Green Shoots, tells of the larger entities, which have some emphasis on living in an earth-friendly manner. It goes through the more obvious projects like An Gáirdín (The Garden), where environmentally-friendly living is practiced and different skills, such as the preservation of biodiversity and carbon neutral building, are taught. Associated with this is the work done in primary schools in County Mayo under the auspices of An Fóidín Glas (The Green Sod).
Mercy involvement in Rural Development also features here. Maureen Lally has had huge influence on farm communities of the West.
Maureen Lally is seen here in the Mayo Abbey Centre, from where she works
It also covers how the Sisters of the Western Province support different causes through Mine Is Yours; the Justice Desk, which raises awareness on such issues as the dangers of fracking; and our involvement with the other Irish Provinces in MECPATHS.
The third part of the book, entitled Growth, includes wholistic therapies; the wonders of the Peace Garden in Mullaghmore; how Hope House encourages its clientele to work in their beautiful garden as they return to a healthier way of life; and the Galilee Community near Boyle, where prayer is shared in a natural setting.
Climate Justice is an important dimension of the book. Individual sisters and communities play their part in walking gently on Earth, recognising that our lifestyles in Ireland influence climate change. Activities such as recycling, composting, care in the use of such resources as water and energy are celebrated. Linked with this is the joy so many of the Sisters take in gardening, both for the beautification of the natural environment and the growth of fruit and vegetable. This is an important feature of how provincial membership and the NGO Vita live partnership, making the lives of people in Ethiopia more sustainable.
A view of the garden in Spiddal, where it looks over the Atlantic
The book finishes with provincial engagement in the Mercy International Reflection Project. The objective of this inclusion is to show our awareness that we are part of a larger Mercy picture and that any change in lifestyle needs to be ongoing. The hope is that the book will be ready to be launched close to Mercy Day. You know what to do – watch this space!
Maura Walsh looks over the shoulders of Teresa Sheeran, Francesca McGuire and Mairéad O’Keeffe in Dún Mhuire, Athlone, as they work together on their project for MIRP
Suzanne Ryder rsm